Breaking My Heart

Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin


First Look:

Newbery Honor Medal!  The illustration is cute, and if it weren’t for the somewhat ominous title, I’d think that this was going to be a cheerful book.

Jacket Copy:

Sasha Zaichik has known the laws of the Soviet Young Pioneers since the age of six:
The Young Pioneer is devoted to Comrade Stalin, the Communist Party, and Communism.

A Young Pioneer is a reliable comrade and always acts according to conscience.
A Young Pioneer has a right to criticize shortcomings.
But now that it is finally time to join the Young Pioneers, the day Sasha has awaited for so long, everything seems to go awry…

[Edited for Spoilers.]
…This moving story of a ten-year-old boy’s world shattering is masterful in its simplicity, powerful in its message, and heartbreaking in its plausibility.



Worth Reading?


Yes, but…well, it’s about Communist Russia.  This is not a unicorns and princesses book.

Notable Things:


Child’s point of view.  Sasha’s narration is perfectly that of a young child’s.


Soviet Russia.  Not a joke if you were in it.

kid appropriate

Kid appropriate!  This book is completely appropriate in depth and language difficulty for most 8 year olds, and a lot of them could read it themselves, although you may get a lot of history/politics questions if they’re not already familiar with concepts.


Yelchin manages to capture the claustrophobia, fear, and paranoia of living in an oppressive society where anyone might have no choice but to betray anyone else–and make it easy for beginning readers to understand!  Moreover, his narrator starts out from a completely naive place, believing in Stalin’s leadership 100%.  To do all of those things at once takes real skill.  And it’s short enough for the average adult reader to finish in an hour.  So what are you waiting for?  Go read it!


Borrowed, because I am poor and live in a small apartment.



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